Shower enclosures have moved on from being ‘simple’ glass boxes to become design-led spaces, which can work in a variety of separate installations or as part of complete bathroom projects.
Recognising the importance of the surround, to create a practical and highly desirable interior statement, consumers are becoming more conscious of enclosure choice.
Sales and marketing director of Lakes Showering Spaces Mike Tattam comments: “We’ve noticed a shift towards high quality, aspirational, design-led products.”
And he adds: “The home improvement trend has been amplified by people spending more time at home during lockdown and having more disposable income available for property projects as they haven’t spent as much on commuting, eating out or holidays abroad.”
Managing director of Roman, David Osbourne agrees and reports: “We certainly see the higher end, design led market as one of our key targets for growth in retail from 2021 onwards and we are investing in significantly in product development, new ranges, colour options and some amazing new mechanisms such as soft close sliders and hinged doors.
But what showering spaces are capturing the attention of consumers? Industry experts agree walk-in enclosures and sliding doors spaces (perhaps because of limited space in a bathroom) are still growing in popularity.
Product director of Crosswater Marten Baker comments: “Walk-in showers are a great choice for generations to come, with easy access configuration making them practical for young children and seniors alike.
“Even the simplest of walk-in showers that involve a single panel in a recess of a small bathroom can evoke feelings of escapism and be created with minor installation work.
“Standard enclosures with sliding doors remain the most popular configuration thanks to their design helping to maximise bathroom space.”
And Mike Tattam of Lakes Showering Spaces says this is reflected in his company’s sales: “Our large walk-in enclosures and large sliders with side panels are growing in popularity, but our largest volume selling product is our shower screen.
“Two metre high, frameless shower screen are increasingly popular as they work well with a tray replacement and offer an unparalleled feeling of space.”
Where there has been a change in shower specification is an injection of accent colour into these spaces.
Led by the wider availability of brassware finishes, showering spaces have now embraced the likes of Polished Nickel or Antique Gold.
Managing director of Roman David Osborne states: “Without question the most prominent trend in the higher end of the bathroom market is colour.
“At Roman, we will be introducing a fifth colour option, Brushed Brass, across our Liberty range – and also a new Matt White sixth option for Liberty Wetroom Panels.”
And Mike Tattam believes colour is going to grow in importance, adding: “Over the next two years, we believe we’ll see more refinement in the style of shower enclosures available on the market, and the development of more product lines featuring accent colours to allow homeowners to personalise their spaces more.”
Plain or pattern
In addition, there has also been a move away from the minimal plain glass enclosure towards more decorative elements, such as Crittal-style enclosures and reeded glass.
David Osborne continues: “We offer a wide selection of black grid and fluted glass shower enclosure options which are stunning options in adding value and complement high end showrooms really well.
“Fluted glass is particularly more desirable to those intent on interior design plans. Plain glass options are still proving to be a popular choice with consumers but this is changing quite dramatically.”
But this doesn’t seem to be a universal opinion, as Mike Tattam of Lakes counters: “Without a doubt, the largest section of the market remains clear glass and while it’s great to have other options our there, for us, Crittal and reeded glass limit the feeling of space we are trying to create with our shower enclosures.
“As well as interrupting the space, these other types of shower glass can hinder the view of your bathroom design – what’s the point of having stylish tiles and brassware if you can’t see them.”
In fact, Lakes offers glass with low iron levels to create glass which reduces the green tinge in glazing for a clearer vista.
Storage and sound
It is this choice that supports the trend for personalisation in bathroom interiors and particularly showering spaces.
Interestingly, this is going to broaden further with the addition of storage, light and sound.
Certainly that’s the view of consumer marketing manager at Geberit Mike Bennett points out: “one key area for growth is integrated storage in shower enclosures, providing that all-important extra storage without compromising aesthetics.
“One of the latest design innovations is to make clever use of the pre-wall to store those everyday toiletries. The new Geberit One range is leading the way in this area, incorporating a niche built-in shelf which sits within the enclosure wall.”
While Mike Tattam adds: “New innovations are likely to include the introduction of light and sound into showering spaces.”
But in this post-COVID outbreak era, perhaps one of the most important specifications of shower specification is hygiene.
Interestingly, David Osbourne states: “Cleanability and hygiene are historically probably the most undersold and overlooked buying criteria in bathroom products.
“Consumer research (such as the BMA survey in 2018) concluded that cleanability was one of the key purchasing considerations – yet it never seems to get the industry airtime it deserves.”
So, perhaps designers and retailers could also take a look at existing specifications, as well as future trends, to maximise on sales for modern bathroom projects.